Occurrence of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans) larvae in the northern Gulf of Mexico: characterization of dispersal pathways and spawning areas Academic Article uri icon


  • 2017, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Here we document for the first time the presence of invasive lionfish larvae (Pterois volitans) in the Gulf of Mexico. Three lionfish larvae (standard length: 3.95.9mm) were collected during summer ichthyoplankton surveys in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2011, with species identification confirmed through the genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA. Pigmentation patterns of these larvae are described and compared with published lionfish descriptions. Otolith microstructure analysis revealed that larvae were 1417days old and that spawning occurred in June and July. A biophysical dispersal model was used to backtrack larvae to their potential spawning locations and results indicated that spawning occurred in the southern Gulf of Mexico near the Yucatn Peninsula, suggesting that these larvae may have been transported into the northern Gulf of Mexico by the Loop Current. Here we provide useful information for identifying lionfish larvae and offer insight into lionfish spawning and larval dispersal pathways.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Kitchens, L. L., Paris, C. B., Vaz, A. C., Ditty, J. G., Cornic, M., Cowan, J., & Rooker, J. R.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Kitchens, LL||Paris, CB||Vaz, AC||Ditty, JG||Cornic, M||Cowan, JH Jr||Rooker, JR

publication date

  • July 2017